Squeezing the most out of life | An Aussie and a Colombian living life with a wandering spirit. Eight years together & over 60 countries up our sleeves, we're sharing the love |

A little slice of Balinese island life

We’ve just spent a few days on a beautiful island off the coast of Bali’s mainland – Nusa Lembongan. It’s not most people’s typical idea of an island paradise but it holds all different kinds of earthy charm. Lengthy white sand beaches are few and far between, there’s a distinct lack of glitz going on and there is the constant smell of seaweed drying in the sun as you poke around the rural villages.

85% of the locals are seaweed farmers, spending their days in the harbour wading through the water and loading up their boats with a crop that is destined to be a thickening agent for icecream. So much so, that almost everywhere you look you’ll find an ocean of traditional boats and the comfort of knowing that no one is really hassling you for your tourist dollar.

We spent our time in the cheapest part of the village, away from the few luxury resorts that are nestled around the secluded bays further south, and even after our brief visit we would still choose to stay at the main harbour, mostly because of the stunning view across the ocean to distant volcanoes.


Also, because we were facing west we were treated to spectacular sunsets while the locals spent time harvesting their precious algae, away from the glare of the midday heat. Watching a working harbour added to the meditative charm of simply staring out to sea and appreciating the changing beauty of the light. The kind of place that helps you feel like you have some kind of insight into typical Balinese life, away from the more popular tourist strips like Kuta.

The main draw card for us, besides a chilled and cheap local vibe, was all about the action happening under the surface. We arrived in season to appreciate some of the best creatures of the sea, and now easily our favourite – manta rays! Watching them glide while madly pumping our legs to keep up will remain the highlight of our visit to the island.

There is something so graceful about an animal that propels itself forward with an effortless flap of its entire body, something sinister looking about their steel like rod of a tail and gaping open ‘face’, and something arresting about their sheer size.

The water around the island is also a safe haven for a huge amount of beautiful coral and gorgeous tropical fish so it’s a really popular spot for divers. Unfortunately my budget didn’t stretch to the $70 AUSD required for a two tank dive but I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything. The morning we spent on a small boat, dropping our snorkelled faces in to various spots around the island, the water visibility was a crystal clear 20-30 metres. I had the pleasure of hand feeding schools of exotic fish while floating over perfect reef at a place aptly named Crystal Bay.

Even if you’re not in to the underwater action a lengthy boat ride around the island will reward you with views of a very underpopulated coastline, waves crashing in to sheer cliff drops and secluded uber blue lagoons, as well as a sleepy expanse of mangroves on the east coast.

It’s also the kind of place that you can easily take off along unpaved roads on a motorbike, free of shoes, a helmet and road rules, dropping in to local restaurants in search of the perfect piece of calamari or spicy noodle dish.

For us, Lembongan is the ideal starting point from Bali to island hop your way on to Lombok, the Gilli islands and beyond!


Take note: There is no ATM on the island so you need to bring as much cash as you think you’ll need with you. There are so many options for surfing lessons, diving, fishing and snorkelling trips it’s an easy place to part with more dosh than you planned.

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